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Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Pakistan drought takes its toll
Baluchistan nomads
The largely nomadic population move in search of water
By Owen Bennett-Jones in Nushki

The governor of the Pakistani province of Balochistan, Amir ul Mulk Mengal, says 1.2 million people in the province are currently affected by drought.

Officials say that across Pakistan as a whole, over a hundred have died as a result of the drought - most because of dehydration.

Millions of animals have also perished.

One of the worst-affected areas is near the Baloch town of Nushki, which lies close to the border with Afghanistan.

Nushki has had just 5 mm of rain in the last four years and that has pushed many families to the limit.

Local officials say people were able to survive for the first two or three years of drought.

Some relied on small reservoirs or ponds near their villages.

Others used ancient underground water channels.

Moving out

Many of the local population are nomadic and they were able to move to areas where their animals could find fodder.


Temporary camp in Baluchistan
Many are living in makeshift camps
But now, in year four of the drought near Nushki, the traditional water sources are running dry and the animals that people depend on are dying in large numbers.

It is reckoned that this year half the livestock around Nushki has perished.

As a result, some 10,000 people have moved to a camp near the town, so that they can gain access to electrically-driven wells.

In the long term though, even the wells are unsustainable.

The water table beneath Nushki is falling at the rate of three to four metres each year.

Baluchistan desperately needs heavy rains, but Nushki never has summer rainfall and will have to wait six months until there is even a chance of a downpour.

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See also:

08 May 00 | South Asia
Balochistan drought at 'crisis point'
02 Dec 99 | South Asia
Pakistan's parched province
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